The Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom of Truth and Justice
The following story is based on a story by Brother Phil Lane, Jr., Ihanktowan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations, as retold by Richard Wagamese. It considers the valued traits in an Indigenous Leader of truth and justice.
IN THE TIME BEFORE there were human beings on Earth, the Creator called a great meeting of the Animal People.
During that period of the world’s history, the Animal People lived harmoniously with one another and could speak to the Creator with one mind. They were very curious about the reason for the gathering. When they had all assembled together, the Creator spoke.
“I am sending a strange new creature to live among you,” he told the Animal People.
“He is to be called Man and he is to be your brother.
“But unlike you he will have no fur on his body, will walk on two legs and will not be able to speak with you. Because of this he will need your help in order to survive and become who I am creating him to be. You will need to be more than brothers and sisters, you will need to be his teachers.
“Man will not be like you. He will not come into the world like you. He will not be born knowing and understanding who and what he is. He will have to search for that. And it is in the search that he will find himself.
“He will also have a tremendous gift that you do not have. He will have the ability to dream. With this ability he will be able to invent great things and because of this he will move further and further away from you and will need your help even more when this happens.
“But to help him I am going to send him out into the world with one very special gift. I am going to give him the gift of the knowledge of Truth and Justice. But like his identity it must be a search, because if he finds this knowledge too easily he will take it for granted. So I am going to hide it and I need your help to find a good hiding-place. That is why I have called you here.”
A great murmur ran through the crowd of Animal People. They were excited at the prospect of welcoming a new creature into the world and they were honoured by the Creator’s request for their help. This was truly an important day.
One by one the Animal People came forward with suggestions of where the Creator should hide the gift of knowledge of Truth and Justice.
“Give it to me, my Creator,” said the Buffalo, “and I will carry it on my hump to the very centre of the plains and bury it there.”
“A good idea, my brother,” the Creator said, “but it is destined that Man should cover most of the world and he would find it there too easily and take it for granted.”
“Then give it to me,” said the Salmon, “and I will carry it in my mouth to the deepest part of the ocean and I will hide it there.”
“Another excellent idea,” said the Creator, “but it is destined that with his power to dream, Man will invent a device that will carry him there and he would find it too easily and take it for granted.”
“Then I will take it,” said the Eagle, “and carry it in my talons and fly to the very face of the Moon and hide it there.”
“No, my brother,” said the Creator, “even there he would find it too easily because Man will one day travel there as well.”
Animal after animal came forward with marvelous suggestions on where to hide this precious gift, and one by one the Creator turned down their ideas. Finally, just when discouragement was about to invade their circle, a tiny voice spoke from the back of the gathering. The Animal People were all surprised to find that the voice belonged to the Mole.
The Mole was a small creature who spent his life tunneling through the earth and because of this had lost most of the use of his eyes. Yet because he was always in touch with Mother Earth, the Mole had developed true spiritual insight.
The Animal People listened respectfully when Mole began to speak.
“I know where to hide it, my Creator,” he said. “I know where to hide the gift of the knowledge of Truth and Justice.”
“Where then, my brother?” asked the Creator. “Where should I hide this gift?”
“Put it inside them,” said the Mole. “Put it inside them because then only the wisest and purest of heart will have the courage to look there.”
And that is where the Creator placed the gift of the knowledge of Truth and Justice.